Tara at Fatshionista writes about people of color and the fact acceptance movement:
There are reasons why people of color aren’t flocking to the fat acceptance movement, and they’re probably not the reasons you’re thinking of. [...]
I also need to say that if I hear the “fat is the last acceptable oppression” meme one more time, I am going to scream (louder). Fat hatred is often blatant, shameless, vitriolic, and completely public. But guess what? So is racism! (And classism, heterosexism, ableism, and sexism.) Racism is institutionalized into our laws, our classrooms, our work places, and our daily interactions. Just because some white folks think it’s unacceptable to say the n-word, doesn’t mean that racism is gone or that it’s not “acceptable.” When people in the fat acceptance movement say that fat is the last acceptable oppression, it alienates and invalidates the struggles of people of color, who know first-hand that racism not only exists, but that it is also very much “acceptable” in polite society.
Another offensive myth that I hear parroted around fairly often is that people of color are more accepting of fat bodies, and that men of color love a “thick” woman. Let’s just say that that is NOT my experience. In many different Asian communities, that is the opposite of the truth. By Taiwanese (where my mom is from) beauty standards, my 5’4, size 20, size 10 shoe body is enormous in almost every sense of the word. The last time my mom went to Taipei and tried to buy me a pair of shoes, the vendor asked her if they were for a man. The last time I saw my uncle 8 years ago (when I was a size 16), his friends laughed at me and he said that he wanted to put me on a diet program. Of course, Asians and Asian culture is not a monolith, and this standard is not true for everyone, everywhere. In fact, among other communities of color, it is not necessarily true that bigger women are more accepted. Our communities are also capable of internalizing fat-hating messages, so to say that people of color are more accepting of fatness is not only false, but it also marginalizes us further and contributes to perpetuating the invisibility of our struggles with our bodies.
I don’t agree with everything Tara writes; for instance, I don’t agree that the fatosphere rarely brings up the connection between class and access to healthy food. (I rarely see it brought up anywhere but the fatosphere). But it’s a great post.
…As people who are interested in social justice, we have a responsibility to give a shit about causes other than our own major concerns. Any oppression diminishes us. I am lucky enough to have a skin color that people can ignore, a relationship that I can get officially recognized, and enough financial stability that I don’t have to worry about where the rent is coming from. That means that racism, homophobia, and classism don’t affect me as much as fatphobia and misogyny; it means I could ignore them if I wanted to. But I invite them into my consciousness, not because I’m a glutton for emotional stress, but because I want to live in a just society. And I believe a just society is one in which the concerns and the marginalization of others matter to us.
Nobody is asking us to give up being fat activists and be anti-racism activists instead. But these things are not mutually exclusive; even if we don’t have the resources to do active work for both (or some other additional activist issue), we can give a shit about both simultaneously. If you do have the resources, by god, keep it up, but I know I just don’t have the energy to try to address all inequities and injustices. It’s hard enough to keep talking about large-scale attempts to disenfranchise and vilify fatties. But even if this isn’t a place where every oppression is equally addressed (which I don’t think anyone expects or even really needs), it’s really crucial that it be a place where every oppression is considered and important. That means that we do not minimize or dismiss people’s concerns. Right now, it means we listen to Tara when she talks about the things that hurt or alienate her; that we believe that these things are alienating; that we take this into account in the future; and that we understand that this awareness is not an unfair onus, but part of the greater work of social activism.
On the same subject, I’d also highly recommend this post at The Rotund.